Did you know that in the 1700s, the Aztecs used vanilla as a natural aphrodisiac? They mixed vanilla with chocolate and offered it as a drink to anyone who wanted to feel extra “sensual.”
Fast forward to the 21st century and vanilla has evolved from being just a sensual drink to also being the signature fragrance of romantic sophistication. Many perfume makers in the early 1990s introduced vanilla as the dominant ingredient in their fragrances, and the response was incredible. People started spraying vanilla-infused scents on themselves, their homes, their shops, and even their cars.
What exactly makes the scent of vanilla so appealing to the senses?
The vanilla boom
The popularity of vanilla as a fragrance has piqued the curiosity of many. What exactly about it do people love?
Some explain vanilla’s appeal through its connection with pleasant childhood memories. Milky vanilla cookies, your mom’s vanilla perfume, eating ice cream while perched on a stool in a diner, the simple notes of vanilla in those pretty shops that carried your favourite dainty accessories—the memories of all these probably come to the forefront whenever you take a whiff of vanilla. You’ve come to unconsciously associate those happy memories with the silky sweet scent of vanilla.
Other fragrance connoisseurs, on the other hand, say vanilla as a perfume started to become a hit in the 1990s because of its stark contrast to the brash and straight-to-your-nostrils perfumes which were in vogue in the 1980s. Compared to those strong aromas, vanilla offered—and continues to offer—a softer, calmer, yet no less intense, scent.
Your key to sophistication
See, vanilla isn’t a favourite scent just because it’s a hallmark of sensuality. Its subtlety also makes it the top choice for scents. The sweet aroma of vanilla lingers long after other, more direct perfumes have attacked your senses. You don’t have to douse yourself or your surroundings with the fragrance. Vanilla is powerful enough to work with just a spray or two in the right places.
Many spas and shops attract their customers with the relaxing and sophisticated aroma of vanilla. Who wants to get a full-body massage with a scent that’s so strong it keeps you awake instead of lulling you to sleep?
Vanilla perfumes the air quietly, as if on cat’s paws. It permeates your surroundings without you noticing; you only realize it minutes later, when you become conscious of your relaxed shoulders and intense calmness. And that is how fragrances ought to work: like vanilla, they should be quiet and subtle; not loud and attention-grabbing.
The sensual experience
While many wear vanilla-infused fragrances because they like the calm mood vanilla puts them in, others use these for more earthy reasons. Some like the sensual mood vanilla puts them in. Put aside happy childhood memories and subtle notes—just as the Aztecs discovered centuries ago, vanilla has the power to put a romantic and sensual blanket over everything.
In fact, there have been studies that say sniffing pure vanilla fragrances can somehow put people in a euphoric mood. Its sweet and delicious notes set the sensual tone which can add to those happy memories you associate with vanilla.
Sweet and innocent, intensely sensual and sophisticated—who knew that vanilla could create such a wide range of moods?
Photo from Thinkstock.